This web page was produced as an assignment for an undergraduate course at Davidson College.


The "Sexual Precociousness" Gene:

Do Our Genes Determine When We Loose Our Virginity?



Journal Articles

Popular Press

Conclusions and References

Many writers and scientists have explored the issues that arise when trying to relay research findings to the public. Kua et al. explores the study of reporting genomics, and claims that popular press reporters need to do more to inform the public not only of the scientific conclusions, but of the data and methodology that support them. Kua et al. tracks news stories behind a particular gene involved with cancer and while doing so points out the misleading information and suggests changes. The article proposes that a scientific reporter should be 1). an intermediary, between the scientific community and the public, 2). A watchdog in order to generate interest but also awareness and 3). A tool-giver in allowing readers to judge the content of the scientific research themselves by giving them to tools, such as tables, data and background methodology, to do so (Kua et al., 2004).

The popular reports concerning the link between age of first intercourse and the DRD4 gene should take Kua's advice. As outlined in the popular press section of this webpage, Callaway does not include substantial evidentiary support and he also inaccurately reflects the scientists' findings. By referencing the basic summaries of two research articles concerning this topic (in the Journal articles section of this webpge) one can find that ABC News had a lot of holes in their report. Callaway, along with other scientific reporters should invest more time into understanding the research so that they can become a true intermediary, watchdog and tool-giver (Kua et al., 2004). Genomics reporting is a new field, but it is essential that the public be accurately aware of the advances that are being made. The potential for a genetic link to the age of first intercourse is not only a shock but a scientific discovery based off of years of research and developing technological methodology. The weight behind the science needs to be emphasized more to the public so that they not only gain a fundmental understandings of genomics research, but also begin to question scientific findings.



Callaway, Ewen. "Genes May Time Loss of Virginity." 31 Mar. 2009. 12 Sept. 2009 <>.

Eunice Kua, Michael Reder, and Martha J. Grossel. 2004. "Science in the News: A Study of Reporting Genomics." Public Understanding of Science. 13: 309–322

Guang Guo and Yuying Tong. 2006. "Age at First Sexual Intercourse, Genes and Social Context: Evidence from Twins and the Dopamine D4 Receptor Gene." Demography. 43.4: 747-767.

Harrison, Karl. "Dopamine." Jan. 2007. 14 Sept. 2009 <>.

Nancy Segal and Joanne Hoven Stohs. 2009. "Age at first intercourse in twins reared apart: Genetic influence and life history events." Personality and Individual Differences. 47: 127-132.



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